Defense, not offense, provides for memorable performance in big games

It seems to be the overwhelming opinion of the American public and basketball expert’s that the National Championship game between UConn and Butler was one of the worst in history. The stats would agree. The two teams combined to score just 94 points. Butler managed to make just 12 of its 64 shots. UConn’s Kemba Walker was just 5-for-19 from the field. There was no significant run outside of UConn’s 20-3 crawl in the second half, which proved to be too much for the outmatched Bulldogs.

But to the few who saw the game a little differently, like myself, saw perhaps one of the best National Championship games in recent memory. You saw two solid basketball teams leaving it all on the floor. The self pride and determination and true grittiness of two teams was never displayed in such a way. The teams struggled offensively and that is it. How does that make it a bad basketball game?

People fail to remember that these are just kids out there; it’s just 18- to 22-year-old kids playing a game they love for all the marbles. Is it so hard to see through and endure a poor offensive game and see the other side of the equation? Never have I seen two teams play so hard and battle so brilliantly for every single point. There were maybe two or three easy buckets throughout the course of the game. The way these two teams quickly forgot about their offensive woes and regained focus on the defensive end was absolutely something to be marveled. To say that these kids played the worst game you have ever seen is to say they didn’t play well in all aspects.

I have seen games in which teams don’t play any defense and the offense explodes. How is this any different? When a team’s offensive production struggles it doesn’t mean that a bad game is being played. The game was played with such passion, such energy and with more heart than any game I have seen in any sport at any level.

It is an utter shame to tell these kids who left it all on that Houston floor that they just played in the worst game ever seen because they didn’t score 80 points. Or to tell the kids from Butler that because they shot so poorly that they didn’t even belong there. Offenses go cold, and in those instances kids are told to pick up their defensive play. The determination and the execution of the defense made it a game to be remembered not for the offensive woes but for the sure toughness of a group of kids who made no excuses. They could have easily let their poor shooting effect the other aspects of their game, but they didn’t. These kids reached back when they needed to and played the game the way it was meant to be played.